There have been several people throughout history whose stories of success and unique thinking have made a lasting historic and global impact.
Being inspired by others can help us to grow and realize what is possible within ourselves.
When it comes to inspirational people, history has a list of extraordinary names to offer. From the worlds of science, religion, philosophy and politics.
Here are some inspirational people who will motivate you to make a change even through difficult circumstances:
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational people to have ever lived. He accomplished in the fields of mathematics, theology, physics and astronomy, his radical thinking resulted in ground-breaking revelations and caused waves among the contemporary science community that would have effects for every generation after.
Most famously, his discovery of gravity laid a base for all modern sciences, but he was also the first person to calculate the speed of sound and made great strides in the study of light.
Martin Luther King Jr
Luther King is one of the most important names of the 20th century, as he underpinned the mass movement of equal rights and inspired an entire generation to rethink racial equality.
He was Born in Atlanta in 1929 and grew up under strict US segregation laws, he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent activism to lead the Civil Rights Movement, eventually ending institutional segregation across the country and picking up a Nobel Peace Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom on the way.
Darwin’s thinking propelled the entire theory of evolution to the forefront of scientific exploration, he revealed the marvels of the natural world to wider society through his epic five year voyage across the world on HMS Beagle.
At a time when religion held a firm grip on societies the world over, Darwin’s theory of natural selection as set out in On the Origin of Species was deemed blasphemous. It took undeniable bravery, courage of his convictions and a great belief in the evidence he had uncovered to stand by a theory which, ultimately, formed the basis for much of modern biology.
The king of literature, Shakespeare’s writing reflected the very nature of humankind. An actor, playwright and poet, his works changed the way in which people thought about themselves and contemporary society, thus changing the English-speaking world.
There are hundreds of his words and phrases coined by the bard still in everyday parlance, for example; ‘catch a cold’ or ‘break the ice’?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
He was a prodigy of incredible talent, composing from the age of five, and, upon his death in 1791, leaving to the world a body of more than 600 works. Many of these still rank among the most popular classical compositions streamed today.
He perfected and developed the Classical mode, characterised by clarity, balance and transparency and in direct contradiction to the Baroque style which dominated at the time. His progressive works went on to form the framework for many world-famous successors.
Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso)
Dalai Lama has earned his title as a true inspiration thanks to his political activism and peaceful protest movements. Gyatso was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for non-violent resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet an ongoing issue which sees Gyatso forced to live in exile in India.
He is known for his passionate speeches on subjects as wide-ranging as women’s rights, economics, the environment, science and religion and his dedication to peace, prosperity, compassion and tolerance.
Churchill, who won the Second World War, is one of the most important figures in modern history. He not only inspired the British nation to be impervious in the face of danger, he did so for the entire allied forces as well, and is widely credited with halting the spread of fascism and protecting liberal democracy in Europe. A formidable politician, outstanding gentleman and an accomplished author with a Nobel Prize for Literature, Churchill was one of the greats.
The advances Einstein made in science are beyond measure, the greatest scientist since Newton, Einstein’s theory of relativity still reigns as one of the most influential breakthroughs in history.
He is the developer of the most famous equation in history, earned a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 and published more than 300 papers during his lifetime, making his name synonymous with the term ‘genius’.
He was also an active voice for human rights, campaigning for a more peaceful world and ardently denouncing the creation of atomic bombs.
Standing alongside Martin Luther King Jr as one of the most famous champions of equal rights, his headstrong pursuit to rid South Africa of its apartheid regime changed history.
He was sentenced to life in prison on charges of inciting workers’ strikes and attempting to sabotage the government, he spent 27 years in prison, during which time he earned a degree, held work and hunger strikes, met with political leaders, wrote an autobiography and took whatever measures he could to continue fighting apartheid.
Despite his poor treatment, he could not be broken and, shortly after being released in 1990, was elected President of South Africa – the country’s first black leader.
Mother Teresa chose a voluntary life of poverty in order to help others. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation which up to date dedicates itself to helping those suffering from HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis as well as running orphanages, schools and clinics.
She instigated entire generations to selflessly aid others and fearlessly taking on world leaders to tackle inequality. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was canonized in 2016 by Pope Francis, becoming the Patron Saint of Calcutta.
Tutu was the first Black man to become the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986. He was also the first Black man to become the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996. He dedicated his life’s work to becoming an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.
These people have inspired others by their various achievements, but most importantly by their attitude and values.